The need to embrace love and strengthen partnerships was highlighted by the United Nations (UN) ahead of this year’s AIDS Day celebrations.
On a possibility that the world can end AIDS epidemic by 2030, Michel Sidibé (Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS) delivered a lecture for the Day, which which goes by the acronym IDAHOT.
The annual IDAHOT celebration of sexual and gender diversity is commemorated globally on 17 May, and this year’s theme focused on alliances for solidarity and respect for LGBTI people as well as their families.
“Stigma, discrimination and social and physical violence against sexual and gender minorities prevents them from accessing health services,” Michel said. “Everyone has the right to health, no matter their gender or sexual orientation.”
UNAIDS findings show that men who have sex with men and transgender women are most likely affected by HIV worldwide.
However, the organization points out that over 40% of countries criminalize same-sex sexual relationships.
“This discriminatory action drives gays and lesbians underground, and blocks access to health and social services, which leaves LGBTI people vulnerable to poor health and homelessness,” Michel added.
To achieve a successful fight against the AIDS scourge, it is essential to ensure that people have unhindered access to HIV prevention technologies and are provided with nondiscriminatory help such as condoms, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and quality HIV treatment and care.
UN Women, the UN Development Programme and UNAIDS are working with the Global Network of People Living with HIV to end all forms of HIV-related stigma and discrimination.
“Punitive laws continue to penalize the behaviours, identities and expressions of LGBTI people in 72 countries, perpetuating discrimination, exclusion, inequality and violence,” UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said.
He underscored that progress is possible, but requires broader alliances to promote safety, combat discrimination, and advocate for law and policy change.
Despite progress in many countries, LGBTI continue to face high levels of violence and inequalities, including in family settings and the workplace.
“We need zero discrimination for everyone, everywhere,” stressed Mr. Sidibé.
UN Member States have been requested to show commitment to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. Support across the board and civil society leadership is also required to ensure the UN health initiative achieves its goals.
Increasing political commitment and investments for the health and well-being of some of the most vulnerable people in society, will help to guarantee that no one is left behind.